I say “wart” and you immediately think… toad! This little creature, often disliked because of persistent myths, is in fact a precious ally for your garden. Forget preconceived ideas about their supposedly slimy, warty appearance. The American toad is a charming creature that deserves our full attention and admiration as gardeners.
Do Not Eat the Toads!
Did you know that toads’ famous warts are actually glands that produce a toxin to protect themselves from predators? Eating or licking them is not at all recommended: it’s enough to make you sick and never touch a toad again!
But don’t worry, unless you eat them (which I don’t recommend!), American toads are not at all toxic to humans, and you won’t get warts if you touch them. Ideally, however, you shouldn’t touch them, because OUR skin secretes an oil that is harmful to them.
Unlike other amphibians, American toads are not permanently dependent on water. They tend to be terrestrial, adapting well to gardens and flowerbeds. When they do need water, they simply soak up moisture from the ground or submerge themselves in a puddle to absorb water through their skin. This is why our touch is harmful to them: the oil from our skin can clog the pores that allow them to hydrate.
If you come across one in a place that seems dry, don’t try to relocate it to a pond. They’re perfectly self-sufficient and happy in your garden, where soil moisture is enough for them.
He Who Eats Last Eats Best
What makes the American toad extraordinary for the laidback gardener is its voracious appetite. It can devour up to 1,000 insects a day!
But it’s not just insects it’s a generalist, devouring everything that moves and enters its mouth. Imagine the service he can do for your garden by getting rid of pests such as slugs, beetles and snails. With this super glutton at your side, your garden is safe.
Even if its tongue isn’t as long as in the cartoons, it moves at a very impressive speed and is sticky enough to leave no chance to potential prey.
Another fascinating feature of the American toad is its role as a “bioindicator”. This is the name given to species that are highly sensitive to human disturbance and cannot live in environments that have been overly modified by our activities. As an amphibian sensitive to pollution and chemicals, the presence of the American toad in your garden is a sign of a healthy environment. Great stuff! Who wants to eat tomatoes full of chemicals, anyway?
So leave your prejudices behind and open the doors of your garden to these charming toads. I leave the grass long enough in my garden to make it more inviting to my benefactors. The American toad is part of my garden ecosystem and does me a favor. How about you?